Showing posts from February, 2012

140. Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

Title: Palace Walk Author: Naguib Mahfouz Translators: William Maynard Hutchins and Olive E. Kenny Original Language: Arabic Genre: Fiction/Socio-political Publishers: Anchor Books Pages: 498 Year of First Publication: 1956 Country: Egypt Al-Sayyid Ahmad Abd al-Jawad is the head of the al-Sayyid household on Palace Walk. Ahmad, as he is commonly referred to, is not a man like others. He believes in strict moral uprightness, unwavering respect and obedience and greatly abhors any attempt to challenge his position as the head of the household either from his sons, daughters, or wife. Consequently, he is strict, stern, firm and irascible. And even in a culture where nothing is held in highest esteem than self-preservation and morality of women, he is considered by his friends as extreme. But Ahmad is a man of dual personality: with his friends he is jovial and friendly. He laughs heartily and is known to be a great orator. And when he is with his concubine, the rest

139. SHORT STORY MONDAY: Twins by C. E. Morgan

Twins  by C. E. Morgan is the last of the eight stories featured by The New Yorker in their June 14 & 21, 2010 edition. Marie is a young woman with aspirations: she wants to get a degree and become a teacher; currently, with her diploma, she works as a receptionist for a dentist. The family moved from their polluted Northside home to Knowlton's Corner after a quarrel. And as a racial family with blacks and whites living down south, they are made to deal with some form of racial comments and insinuations now and then. Mike Shaughnessy, the father is Irish and Marie is black. Their sons (the twins) are also colour-divied: Allmon is black and Mickey is white. This somewhat genetic happenstance became curious to the people in the town for both children and adults alike. So that when they go out to play, questions are asked about who their father is and if they are siblings. People, especially from the adults, would dote on Mickey whilst Allmon would stand back; however, the

Quotes for Friday from Cyprian Ekwensi's Burning Grass

Not a war. But then, it was a war. When the forest burns do the locusts stop to say goodbye? [35] I say there has been a war. If a fish comes out of the water and says the crocodile has one eye, who has been there with him? [35] Night might convert the old devil into a fiend. [36] 'A maiden is one of those things a man must not trust. By Allah, it is!' 'And the others?' 'A Prince, a river, a knife, and darkness. A prince because his word changes with the weather; a river because in the morning you may wade across it, but in the evening it has swollen and can swallow you. A knife, because it knows not who carries it. Darkness, ha! Who knows what lurks in it. Certainly, all evil things.' [37/38] He who waits will see what is in the grass. [50] You pay twenty head of cattle for a maiden because you are excited. Then when your head is cool, you begin to say "If I had known!" [74] On the day of death, there is no medicine. [118]

138. Burning Grass by Cyprian Ekwensi

Title: Burning Grass Author: Cyprian Ekwensi Illustrator: A. Folarin Genre: Ethnic Publishers: Heinemann (AWS) Pages: 118 Year of First Publication: 1962 Country: Nigeria Cyprian Ekwensi' Burning Grass  is a story about the life of Fulani herdsmen narrated through Mai Sunsaye. Mai Sunsaye is a leader of his people and a medicine man, a man who knows how to treat people. One day, whilst with his sons grazing their cattle an incident occurred that would affect all their lives including the children. A Fulani girl a slave of the fearful man Shehu was being chased by a man with whips. Mai Sunsaye paid for Fatimeh with his cattle and ordered man to leave. Thus, Fatimeh became free. Rikku, the youngest son Mai Sunsaye loved Fatimeh and the girl also showed signs of affection toward him. However, it was Hodio who eloped with her. As a leader of the people of Dokan Toro, Mai Sunsaye had been opposed by Ardo. One day, Ardo's men released a bird with magic which

137. SHORT STORY MONDAY: The Kid by Salvatore Scibona

Salvatore's The Kid  is the seventh of the eight stories The New Yorker featured when it provided its best twenty authors under forty years dubbed '20 under 40'. Reviews of the other stories could be read here . A boy of about five years has suddenly appeared at the Hambur g-Fuhlsbüttel Airport, and weeping. Speaking Latvian, the boy is incomprehensible and talks intermittently. Travellers waiting to embark have gathered around him trying to coax him in different languages if he will respond but all prove to no avail. But by some means the boy knows that he is in Germany and that since his mother had warned him that  A German may appear to be a good fellow, but better to hang him Janis, the boy, continued crying. The next section of the story told of Elroy Heflin who had been posted to Latvia and was having an affair with a Latvian lady, Evija. Elroy wanted to marry Evija after she became pregnant but she said she wasn't ready and Elroy was deployed to Afgh

136. African Roar 2011 Edited by Emmanuel Sigauke and Ivor Hartmann

Title: African Roar 2011 Editors: Emmanuel Sigauke and Ivor Hartmann Genre: Short Story Anthology Publishers: StoryTime Pages: 214 (e-copy) Year of Publication: 2011 African Roar has become an annual feature in our literary calendar with last year's publication being the second in the series after it debuted in 2010 . It gives voices to new and emerging voices in Africa bringing together hitherto not-widely known writers and those whose writings have been recognised and appreciated with awards. The 2011 African Roar Short Story Anthology continued this tradition by bringing together new voices such as Ghana's Isaac Neequaye and established and award-winning writers such as the recent winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, NoViolet Bulawayo. This year's anthology consists of fourteen short stories with varied themes. The anthology opens with Ruzvidzo Stanley Mupfudzo's Witch's Brew . Mai Chamboko has been described as a witch because she has lost

135. SHORT STORY MONDAY: Dayward by ZZ Packer

ZZ Packer's Dayward  is set in the period when the emancipation law has been passed and blacks in America were free to leave their masters and live as freed people. Lazarus and his deaf sister, Mary Celeste, though free, are on the run from the Five Daughters. And Miss Thalia, the owner of Five Daughters had fulfilled her promise of setting Kittredge's dog on them after they had had a head-start because she considered the African race an ungrateful lot of thieves for deserting once emancipation came around. "All I got to say," ... "is that we always fed and clothed you slaves." Fourteen year old Lazarus and nine year old Mary Celeste were on a journey to reunite with their only surviving relative in New Orleans but first they had to survive the journey and the dogs. Using tales told them by their parents like the man who suffocated and killed a dog by wrapping around his some homespun from his shirt and ramming it down the dog's throat, the siblin

Quotes for Friday from Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things

It wasn't an accusing, protesting silence as much as a sort of estivation, a dormancy, the psychological equivalent of what lungfish do to get themselves through the dry season, except that in Estha's case the dry season looked as though it would last forever. [12] Though you couldn't see the river from the house anymore, like a seashell always has a sea-sense, the Ayemenem House still had a river-sense. [30] "We are prisoners of war," Chacko said. "Our dreams have been doctored. We belong nowhere. We sail unanchored on troubled seas. We may never be allowed ashore. Our sorrows will never be sad enough. Our joys never happy enough. Our dreams never big enough. Our lives never important enough. To matter" [52] Some things come with their own punishments. Like bedrooms with built-in cupboards. They would learn more about punishment soon. That they came in different sizes. That some were so big they were like cupboards with built-in bedroom. Yo

134. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

The God of Small Things (Harper Perennial, 1997; 321) by Arundhati Roy won the Man Booker prize in 1997 amid some controversies. Some have gone ahead to describe the book harshly, whilst others have praise the insight of Roy. One thing is however clear The God of Small Things is a book that opens up a society exposing all its rotten innards and demands that we choose but choose wisely. In this novel, Roy examines the lives we live and the choices we make on the lives of the people around us, mostly on the innocent children. She also examines hypocrisy, more especially political hypocrisy, and betrayal by the state, friends, loved ones, and family. Estha and Rahel are more than just fraternal twins. Their soul reach out for each other. One day, whilst on their way to pick their uncle's - Chacko's - daughter, Estha was sexually molested by a hairy man who offered him a cold soft drink. Estha lost his innocence and something lively in him died. And something in Rahel also d

133. SHORT STORY MONDAY: Lenny Hearts Eunice by Gary Shteyngart

In this short story Shteyngart takes a look at a near-futuristic America where diet, health, technology, credit (or finances) all matter, through the awkward or mismatched relationship between Eunice Parker and Leonard (Lenny) Abramovic. In this near-futuristic world individuals are rapidly evolving (have already become Post Humans different from humans) and the workers at the Post-Human Services have been told to keep a diary, to remember who we were, because at every moment our brains and synapses are being rebuilt and rewired with maddening disregard for our personalities, so that each year, each month, each day, we transform into different people, utterly unfaithful iterations of our original selves, of the drooling kids in the sandbox.  But not Lenny. Lenny had just returned from Rome to his bio-tech company that deals in selling immortality to High Net Worth Individuals and where he works as Life Lovers Outreach Coordinator (Grade G). In Rome, Lenny had given in to all so

NEW PUBLICATION: How Shall We Kill the Bishop and Other Stories by Lily Mabura

Slated to be published in March 2012 is Lily Mabura's short story anthology How Shall We Kill the Bishop and other Stories . The title story How Shall We Kill the Bishop  was shortlisted for the 11th Caine Prize for African Writing in 2010. I read the story but got lost along the way; however, I know of other individuals who loved the story. The challenge is now to revisit this short story and have a second reading. From the Publishers: An artist mourning for a brother who died in Bosnia, a restless young woman alerted to the possibility of life outside her tight knit community, an unemployed lawyer lingering in a Kenyan hospital - Lily Mabura's first collection of short stories deals with characters whose fates fascinates and alarm.  Set in Kenya, the USA, Namibia and the Congo, these brief, evocative tales demonstrate an acute sensitivity to the globalised trajectories which increasingly distinguished our world. One of Kenya's most promising authors, Lily M

Quotes for Friday from Veronique Tadjo's As the Crow Flies

We live in a world where we can tell neither head nor tail. We live in a world that jeers at you and proffers insults, an incestuous world that robs you of hope. [23] It is definitely a century that hands its head in shame. Our elders have been called impotent, and we are accused of being 'limp'. [31] We are all sick and tired of this suffocation, of this monarch lording it over his people. Everybody can feel that this is a sterile century. Even love is finding it hard to thrive. [31] Somewhere, a young man wallows in his suffering - his wound so deep he cannot draw a distinction between love and destruction. When he fights, he wounds his adversary like a fighter in search of victory. [59] His pain is so great that he wants to punish all women, but I tell him, 'No, love is the colour of hope. Bitter today, sweet tomorrow. You should not throw away your wealth of tenderness and let the honey-filled caresses dry up. Do not be wicked just to prove who you are, just to

January in Review and Projections for February

Most of my readings this year would be challenge-related as I pursue the target of 70 books. I have tried committing myself to 50 pages a day, regardless of the font size or volume of the book and somehow it is working. Weekends are used for rounding up reads especially those that are less than 150 pages to completion.  Comparatively, I read more books (9) in January 2011 than I have read in January 2012 (7, excluding single stories). However, the total pages read (1533) for last year January is less than the total pages (1755, excluding single stories and the first review for 2012 which was read in December 2011) for this month. Books read and or reviewed in January are: So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (read in 2011, Top 100 Books Reading Challenge ) The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer ( Top 100 Books Reading Challenge ) I Write What I Like by Steve Biko Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner ( Top 100 Books Reading Challenge , Chunkster Challenge ) As the Crow Fl